By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

The Sandy Springs City Council unanimously approved a $2.5 million continuation of its 2009 capital paving project Sept. 2.

The money will go toward resurfacing and reconstructing roads and is the remaining balance of $6.5 million the council allotted for paving projects when it passed the fiscal 2009 budget June 18.

Sandy Springs has 101 miles of arterial and collector streets, 56 miles of which have been repaved since 2005. The second phase of the 2009 capital paving program will cover 12.98 miles of resurfacing and 3.38 miles of reconstruction.

Resurfacing a street is less expensive and quicker than reconstructing one, but it’s possible only if the base of a street is intact, Public Works Director Angelia Parham told the council.

“Trying to save the pavement which is already there is much less expensive in the long run,” she said. “Reconstruction is just the opposite. That’s where we physically have to start over, take out the base and rebuild it, which is of course a much more expensive option.”

Focusing on arterial and collector roads “benefits more citizens on a daily basis,” Parham said.

“Reconstruction is used to address the city’s worst streets — those that if resurfaced would not hold up for long. We see this happening when we resurface a street to repair cracking, and after a year or two years it all comes back to the surface,” she said. “One of the hardest problems about reconstruction is that it causes a lot of delays and a lot of inconvenience to the people that live in the area, so that’s something you all need to be aware of.”

Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny suggested putting all of this year’s remaining money toward resurfacing arterial and collector roads and focusing on reconstruction next year. “I personally prefer that we spend the money on arterials and collectors because more people will use them and it will finish that segment of our major roads. … I think once we get our arterials done maybe next year we can start allocating more money for those other needs.”

Field services manager Ron Adderly told the council the “gator cracking” effect that can be seen on some Sandy Springs streets comes from a defective base under the paved surface.

“A lot of the streets that we’re talking about are streets that are at the end of their lifecycle, so as a result it doesn’t make sense financially to put money into them to do anything other than reconstruct,” he said.

Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins expressed concern that given a combination of resurfacing and reconstruction, not all of the planned streets will be finished before the next budget year.

Suppose “we say, ‘Go and do these streets,’ ” she said. “Next year during the paving part of our budget, will it all go towards reconstruction at that point, or (is city staff) going to come back and say, ‘No, there’s more collectors and arterials that we’ve got to do at this point’?”

Parham said the exact funding required to finish all of the arterial and collector streets can’t be determined until the second phase of the capital paving project is complete.

“Assuming that we we do all of the arterials and collectors, we’ll still have resurfacing on the local streets as well,” she said.

According to City Manager John McDonough, the city planned during the budget process to spend money on both resurfacing and reconstruction.

“We just wanted to bring that back to council and to validate that it is the intent of council to do road reconstruction,” he said. “If you wish, you could substitute the road reconstruction process with continuing your paving program.”

Of the 11 roads with sections slated for resurfacing, the three longest stretches are on Heards Ferry Road, Huntcliff Trace and Windsor Parkway.

Of the 18 roads with sections slated for reconstruction, the three longest stretches are on Kenbrook Drive, Wyncourtney Drive and Glencastle Drive.